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Santa Ynez Valley
Concerned Citizens
P.O. Box 244
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

A SIMPLE SUMMATION OF ANNEXATION ISSUES FACING THE SANTA YNEZ VALLEY

BACKGROUND:  The past fourteen years of community resistance to the Chumash tribe's "taking" of county land through tribal expansion via fee-to-trust (annexation) may have resulted in misunderstanding or confusion among some folks.  This confusion may be a result of having jumbled two very distinct, yet similar, efforts: 

  1. 6.9 acres along Highway 246 (across highway from Chumash Casino) --- The fee-to-trust (annexation) effort on this 6.9 acres of Santa Barbara County land, in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) rejected taking into account and denied "standing" of any Santa Ynez Valley resident (community) to challenge the BIA's decision to take the 6.9 acres into fee-to-trust (annexation) resulted in POLO (Preservation of Los Olivos) filing a law suit challenging this ruling.  This more-than-ten-year-old suit is still pending & has just been re-opened by POLO.  It contains a challenge as to the validity of the Chumash tribe.  SYVCC (Santa Ynez Valley Concerned Citizens) elected not to join in this effort via filing a separate suit as it would be a duplication and a waste of precious community-donated funds.  SYVCC has financially supported POLO in their efforts, both individually and organizationally.
  2. 1400 acres along Highway 154 at Highway 246 --- "Camp 4" ---Camp 4 is a totally different issue.  SYVCC, along with many other valley organizations, has openly and actively opposed fee-to-trust (annexation) efforts on Camp 4.  The SYVCC board has spent many, many hours behind the scenes laying the ground work for what we saw as an inevitable BIA ruling allowing annexation of Camp 4.    Our efforts have included various letter campaigns (which the community has fully supported), as well as numerous meetings with lawmakers, including trips for lobbying in Washington DC and Sacramento.  All of this activity was voluntary by SYVCC board members, saving SYVCC anyassociated or legal expenses.  Now that the BIA has issued its preliminary findings (BIA June 17, 2014 Final Environmental Assessment) it is time to actively engage in our fight against the BIA'sdecision allowing annexation of Camp 4.  This includes engaging our legal team. 

The Chumash are pursuing Camp 4 annexation (fee-to-trust) through three efforts, all now simultaneously active:

  1. The "Compact Approach" via Santa Barbara County ... which was rejected by the County Board of Supervisors under pressure from the community (in which SYVCC played a major part),
  2. The "Legislative Approach" via a federal (Congressional) ruling ... the Chumash were successfulin lobbying a Redding, CA congressman (LaMalfa) to introduce federal legislation which, if passed, would circumvent the BIA's need to issue any fee-to-trust decision.  The community's loud and successful opposition to this ruling has, to date, kept the legislation in committee.  SYVCC, while in Washington DC, was very successful in pressuring Congresswoman Capps to state in writing her opposition to this annexation legislation.
  3. The "BIA Fee-To-Trust Approach" … now, for the first time, with the BIA June 17, 2014 Final Environmental Assessment release there is legally actionable justification for opposition to Camp 4 annexation.  Our recourse to fight annexation of Camp 4 is to seek relief via a lawsuit in the federal courts.

SUMMARY:  SYVCC has been waiting for the BIA Environmental Assessment release, knowing it was at that time when we would take action.  There was no legal recourse for filing a lawsuit to stop Camp 4 annexation until now.

  1. The SYVCC legal team has been "on board" and waiting over the course of the past year for a 'green light' to commence their work.
  2. They have done extensive research, at their expense, to add to their background and expertise in this very narrow field of federal law. 

ACTION:  It is now time to begin raising funds to pay the anticipated legal fees.

  1. Community support for fundraising and letter campaigns is vital.
  2. Fundraising needs to begin immediately, starting with a "seed" group.
  3. Expanded fundraising follows, with valley-wide and county appeals and meetings to explain the costs and needs.